The last weekend in May would have been the 62nd annual Allegany Nature Pilgrimage in Allegany State Park.
Instead, get ready for the First Virtual Allegany Nature Pilgrimage.
With large groups still banned in these days of the coronavirus pandemic, the Pilgrimage must go on — Zoom.
Lon Myers, a director of the Allegany Nature Pilgrimage, asked about conducting a virtual Pilgrimage after it became apparent that the coronavirus would cause the live event, held over three days, to be canceled.
He wasn’t exactly sure of how to pull it off, but was determined to try to pull together a couple of dozen presenters who could Zoom their program to he hundreds of nature lovers who usually attend the pilgrimage — and more.
Myers, 64, a Rochester native who now lives near Philadelphia, has been coming to the Allegany Nature Pilgrimage since he was 4 years old. He has made numerous presentations at past pilgrimages, leading groups of more than 100 at a time. Not this year.
His son, Christopher Myers, who lives in Delaware and his fiance Maggie Atterbury have wrestled with the technology of the virtual Pilgrimage while Meyers corralled the presenters.
“About half the presenters are regulars at the Pilgrimage,” Myers said. “I wrote people and said if they wanted to be a presenter, write a proposal.” There are now 22 programs and 18 presenters.
Ken Keffer will be the lead-off presenter Thursday at 7 p.m. His program is Earth Almanac: “Nature’s Calendar for Year-Round Discovery.”
Myer rounds out Thursday night presentions at 8:30 with a lighthearted program differentiating birdwatchers and birders. “Everything is free,” Meyers said. “All you have to do is sign up.”
The list of presentations and the presenter biographies can be found at www.alleganynaturepilgrimage.com/virtualanp.
Follow directions on the site to register for the free Virtual Allegany Nature Pilgrimage.
The Allegany Nature Pilgrimage is hosted by the Jamestown Audubon Nature Center, Buffalo Audubon Society, Burroughs Audubon Nature Club of Rochester and the Presque Isle Audubon Society of Erie, Pa.
“It’s a bummer for me and everyone else,” Myers said of not holding the Pilgrimage. Since it could not be held because of the crowds, “this is the next best thing,” he added.
The Zoom video conference is new to Myers, but his son and his fiance have brought everything together nicely, he said.
For those who cannot participate live, the videos will be archived on the Allegany Nature Pilgrimage website and on its YouTube channel, Myers said.
The co-chairmen of the Allegany Nature Pilgrimage, Marcia Nixon and Lisa Danko will appear in a welcoming video at the start of the Virtual Pilgrimage, Myers said.
One presenter wanted to do a live broadcast on Zoom from the state park, but internet connectivity issues may prevent that. Instead, the presenter will make a YouTube video from Science Lake, Myers said.
“We’re doing pretty good pulling all this together,” Myers said. “It’s going to be pretty good.”